This interview was conducted by the author in 1999 while interning at Columbia Records. AllHipHop.com presents a six-year time machine glance into the hungry, but prophetic eyes of Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson in 1999.
Hopefully on the verge of releasing Power of a Dollar, 50 Cent had already stirred up the industry with his "How to Rob" anthem on the Deep Blue soundtrack. Reactions from Terror Squad and Sticky Fingaz had surfaced, and 50 welcomed the taste of opposition. Get a vintage view of 50's competitive spirit, his Columbia signing, and some more philosophical looks at life, death, and getting rich in between...
AllHipHop.com: How did you get started in the music industry?
AllHipHop.com: So, that’s what led you to getting signed?
50 Cent: Yeah, like how I was when I met Jam Master Jay - I looked like money. It made it easier. It’s not like I knew the guy. Jam Master Jay signed me to his label, JMJ. I made 18 records under JMJ. I realized that I was goin’ nowhere. I had a meeting with Mark Morales [formerly, Prince Markie Dee of Fat Boys]. I played my tape for him, and while I’m playin’ the tape, he’s listening to someone on his cell phone, and talkin’ to his girl at the car lot. So basically, no one’s really payin’ attention to my music, but me. Then Mark’s boy goes to him, "Yo, Mark what you think of this?" He’s like, "It’s aight." I’m like, "Gimme my motherf**kin’ tape, man. Y’all n***as is mad old school." I just took my tape and left. Like a week later, Mark calls me at three o’clock in the morning. We linked up, and he wanted me to go upstate with him that night. But I don’t go upstate with n***as. Where I’m from, n***as go upstate, and don’t come back. The next day, my man came with me, and then we went upstate. I met Tone & Poke [Trackmasters] and them Femme Fatale girls. When I went up there, I still wouldn’t have been able to work, because the studio was all occupied. Them Femme Fatale girls started arguing and fighting with each other, and they left back to the city. That left the opportunity open for me. In the next 18 days, I made 36 songs. After doing that, I knew regardless to what was going on, I was gonna get signed.
AllHipHop.com: That’s hot. The 36 songs were your demo…
50 Cent: Once I get in the zone, like throughout those 18 days, I get in the mood and s**t just keeps comin’ to me. There’ll be no problem, everything I write works.
AllHipHop.com: What kind of things do you get your ideas from to write a song?
50 Cent: A lot of different things - conversations. You might say something in a conversation that’s real. I was in the projects yesterday, and I was talking to one of the gods out there. He was telling me, "You can determine how great a man is, by how many people hate him, ‘cause envy’s a mothaf**ka." He just said it like nothing, so naturally that he didn’t even understand what kind of jewel he was droppin’. After, I had a conversation with my boy and he was telling me, "You know you’re good when people constantly try to challenge you. They feel like you’re a threat to everything else that’s going on. You should feel good." There was this kid from the Terror Squad on the radio who had a song called "Two Quarters." Sticky Fingaz did "Jackin’ for Beats." Neither one of them are hit records, so I don’t really mind. I’m gonna address them though, when It’s the right time. I don’t want to make myself out to be that kid who talks about everybody. So, right now I’m gonna let them slide. I’m gonna continue to do what I gotta do and after I build my fan base, I’ll start finishing off their careers. [Laughs]
AllHipHop.com: What made you want to do the song "How To Rob”? Was it influenced by the label?
50 Cent: Not really. It originated in a conversation with myself and my A&R. He said, "You should do a record where you’re robbing everybody, but as a joke." I came in the following week with the song and his jaw dropped.
AllHipHop.com: So, you basically did it as a joke and people are taking it seriously…
50 Cent: I don’t care if they take it seriously. It doesn’t matter to me. That record did for me what a poster board can’t do. Without making a record that separates you from everybody else, who are you? There a million people out there that are rappin’, you need a reason why people will wanna work with you. The reason why it’s comedy, is because comedy has some truth to it, all the time. You can put your good clothes on and go to the comedy club and the comedian is gonna pick you to pieces. The comedian will have the whole place laughing at you, then how do you feel? Comedy is always at somebody else’s expense. The Terror Squad can be upset ‘cause they got these hardcore killer images, but like I said, that’s an image. If they were killers, I’d be dead already.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think of Hip-Hop at its standing point right now, do you think we’re losing Hip-Hop?
50 Cent: We’re not losing Hip-Hop. I’m taking straight it back to when Hip-Hop was more competitive. “This new kid came in and said some s**t, we’re gonna get ‘em.” The goes with Sticky Fingaz, now he’s talkin’ about everybody. Monkey see monkey do. Did you hear what he said about me on his record? "Your mama’s more of a man than you are." Come on man that’s an old school mama joke. Who helped him write that line, his little cousin, his little sister? My record is my way in.
AllHipHop.com: Your stepping stone…
50 Cent: Right. I’m not gonna just do that. I got more in me. I got better things to do than to just talk about other people.
AllHipHop.com: What do you think about the media hating on rappers?
50 Cent: Nobody likes rappers, they like the music. Puffy for instance, when he’s doing great, he’s Puffy, the producer, and the record label owner. When he does bad automatically he’s Puff Daddy the rapper. The incident with Steve Stoute, he was turned into Puff Daddy the rapper. “Public Enemy 2000” was the perfect record for Puffy to come out with, because they don’t want to see him do good. I’d love to see him do good. I don’t care who it is. I want to see everybody do good. The best. I wish everybody the best.
AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about the album. How long did it take you put that together?
50 Cent: It took a while to put together because of the choosing. I had done like 60 songs. I got Destiny’s Child, U.G.K, Dave Hollister, Noreaga, and I have a record that’s pending, which I don’t want to talk about. It’s a balanced out album. It fits a bunch of different markets.
AllHipHop.com: Do you have any advice for people trying to get into the industry, especially young people?
50 Cent: I advise them to prepare for the worst when coming into the music industry. Because before you come into the industry, you see it as what it appears to be, and it’s not like that. It’s television, the jewelry you see these people wearing on TV, cars you see them driving, things like that and it seems real glamorous. When you get in, you’re gonna see sides to it that you never thought there were.
AllHipHop.com: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
50 Cent: Ten years? [pause] Let’s narrow it down to five years. Five years. [pause] I may not be alive in five years. I hope so though. If I live to those five years, I’ll be doing movies and things like that. My friends, I have a few left. This summer I lost three friends. I only made one real relationship in 23 years and he passed away. I think the only thing that’s promised to us is death. If im not able to get out of the environment that I’m in now, I’ll be in jail or I’ll be dead. I’m never gonna be givin’ people none of my s**t, as far as trying to rob me. It’s not possible. The more popular you get, the more important it is that they get you.
AllHipHop.com: Why do you think that everyone is always trying to get everyone that’s on top instead of trying to get on top themselves?
50 Cent: I don’t think those people have figured out a way. I know if wasn’t rappin’, I’d be in the street doing the same thing. You don’t see past what’s going on right in front of us. We go to the block and hustle on the block, go home, go to sleep, and wake up go shop, come back to the block, by a car, drive around in
-Navjit "NahGee" Saini